Janesville21.9°

Grant money to fund new transportation post

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
December 29, 2010
— Whether you are looking for a job or already have one, lack of transportation can be a problem.

"If you can't get there or get out and look for employment, it's extremely difficult. And if it's sporadic, employers aren't going to put up with that," said Ryan Schomber, a member of the Rock County Transportation Coordinating Committee who also works at the Rock County Job Center.


Access to public transportation in Rock County is not abundant, he said.


Joyce Lubben, director of the Rock County Council on Aging, wants to use $82,706 from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to fund a new, full-time county mobility manager position.


That pleases Dave Mumma, head of the Janesville Transit System.


"Public transportation nowadays is about a lot more than bus routes running in Janesville or Beloit and the Rock County Specialized Transit System throughout the county. The goal is to ensure citizens throughout the county have access to mobility by whatever means makes the most sense for their particular situation.


"It's a need that's out there, and we've heard from people but haven't been in a position to address it before," Mumma said.


Needs assessment surveys have shown transportation is a barrier in Rock County, Lubben said.


"Business closings have resulted in Rock County having one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, resulting in the need for even more coordinated affordable transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, people needing transportation for employment or school, and those living in rural areas of the county," Lubben wrote in her grant proposal.


Lubben also noted several transportation providers in the county have gone out of business.


Mumma agreed: "Taxi service in the community technically is available, but it's a struggle for people to get a cab ride in Janesville. We've had people come into town going to set up taxi service in Janesville and Beloit, but it only lasted for a year, and they were gone."


Janesville city buses do not operate Saturday evening or on Sunday and Rock County Specialized Transit is stretched thin, he said.


"So there are still unmet needs out there," Mumma said.


Lubben hopes the mobility manager can be on board by mid February. If approved by the county board, the mobility manager would work under the direction of Lubben to coordinate transportation strategies as determined by the council on aging and the county transportation coordinating committee.


The manager would be a hub for transportation information and assistance, Lubben said.


"The whole idea is to coordinate resources to get transportation options out there for people," she said.



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